As outlined in the Future of the Federal IT Workforce Report, inefficiencies in the hiring process has contributed to the Federal government’s struggle to bring in talent to the IT workforce in a timely and efficient manner. For example, average times to hire are between 110-170 days based on security clearance level, which is four times longer than in industry. CIO Council. Future of the Federal IT Workforce Update. May 2020.) As noted by GAO, these struggles have led to challenges in recruiting and retaining CIOs and IT personnel. (GAO-19-723T. Talent Management Strategies to Help Agencies Better Compete in a Tight Labor Market. 9/25/2019.) In order to bring in skilled IT talent, agency CIOs have increasingly used Special Hiring Authorities, such as Schedule A, to meet specific hiring needs that have not been met by the regular hiring process.
Schedule A has been repeatedly granted by OPM for the hiring of digital services staff working on IT projects for the past several fiscal years but has been limited to Modernization, Smarter IT Delivery, and cloud migration projects. An additional hiring flexibility was released by OPM in October 2018 to meet critical technical and cybersecurity needs; this guidance provides direct hire authorities for a variety of STEM and cybersecurity positions.
OPM’s most recent regulation was released in April 2019 as the Delegation of Direct-Hire Appointing Authority for IT Positions (OPM. Delegation of Direct-Hire Appointing Authority for IT Positions. 4/5/2019) which builds on the PMA and EO 13833 and provides two CIO direct hire authorities: one for a severe shortage of candidates, and one for a critical hiring need. Both of these authorities provide for an appointment lasting up to four years with an additional four-year appointment at the agency’s discretion. This direct hire authority (DHA) expands agencies' ability to maximize DHA for meeting critical IT hiring challenges beyond the government-wide DHA for IT, which is limited to IT positions related to information security.
Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS)
FEVS is administered annually by OPM and is a voluntary survey of all permanent federal employees. The survey was initially administered bi-annually as the Federal Human Capital Survey (FHCS) beginning in 2002 and has been administered in its current form since 2010. The survey measures employees’ perceptions of whether, and to what extent, conditions characteristic of successful organizations are present in their agencies. (OPM. Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey.) There are typically around 100 questions and the survey takes about 25 minutes to answer. It is typically released around mid-year and respondents have around six weeks to complete the survey electronically, the typical response rate is above 40% among the more than 1.4 million permanent federal employees. Once the survey period is completed, OPM weighs and analyzes the data and ensures the final data set reflects the agency composition and demographic makeup of the Federal workforce within plus or minus 1 percentage point. The final product is published as an OPM report and provides agency leaders insight into areas where improvements have been made, as well as where improvements are needed.